While several other states have seen recent decreases in the number of undocumented immigrants residing within their borders, figures for Texas have remained the same or have possibly increased, a new report says.
Data from the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project shows that of the six states with the largest number of "unauthorized" immigrants — Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York — Texas was the only state that didn't witness the significant dip in population totals that took place a few years ago. From 2007 to 2009, the unauthorized immigrant population fell from an estimated 12.2 million nationally to 11.3 million. Newer estimates have the figure closer to 11.7 million.
"Texas, which had 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants in 2012, is the only one of the six states that did not experience declines in unauthorized immigration during 2007-2011," the report's authors said. "The state's unauthorized immigrant population increased by 2009, compared with 2007, and also grew in 2011 compared with 2009 and 2010."
But the authors also say the figures are the middle of a wide range, which means the actual totals could be less or more than the estimates. The data is compiled using census data, which limits the ability to determine exact figures.
The 2012 national number is the middle of a range of 11.1 million to 12.2 million. In 2009, the range was 11.2 million to 11.5 million. The undocumented immigrant population figure in Texas has hovered near 1.7 million since 2011, up from the 1.6 million in 2009 and 2010.
The data also suggests that the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the country is down. It 2007, 57 percent of undocumented immigrants were from Mexico; in 2012 the estimate was about 52 percent.
Despite the study's data on population growth — which the authors concede is not statistically significant — the new information could come into play as Congress continues to debate immigration reform. Proponents of reform have argued that border security — a main sticking point between Republicans and Democrats — should not factor in efforts to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Republicans say the border must be secure to prevent a future flow of illegal activity. Democrats, specifically those from the border states, argue that the border is more secure than it has been and use Customs and Border Protection data to back up those claims. Apprehensions are at record lows, they argue, proving there are fewer people attempting an illegal entry.
In fiscal year 2012, there were about 356,900 apprehensions on the southwest border, up from 2011's 327,600, according to CBP's year-end statistics. It is a significant dip from 2006, when there were about 1.07 million apprehensions.
The new data also estimates the number of legal immigrants grew as well, to about 28.3 million legal permanent residents in 2012. That is up from about 26.9 million in 2007.
"This growth was consistent with patterns over the past decade," the report states. "The total also included 1.7 million legal temporary migrants, compared with an estimated 1.5 million in 2007."
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/23/report-unauthorized-immigration-may-be-rising/